At one point in time, Mohd Raduan Emeari represented the country in the international sports arena, standing in the spotlight on podiums and bringing home gold medals in Malaysia’s name.
Today, though, he has trouble even moving around as he does not possess a document considered a basic form of identification for most: a driving licence.
Raduan was once part of an elite group of athletes who pushed past their physical disabilities to achieve their dream of competing on a level as professional as any other.
Despite suffering from cerebral palsy, he became a national para-athlete, representing Malaysia in the 100m sprinting event at international competitions such as the Asean Para Games and even the Paralympics.
But it is this condition that makes it difficult for him to sit for the test.
“I can read, but I have a hard time understanding long written questions and using a computer,” he said in an interview with MalaysiaNow.
“This is why I cannot get a driving licence, which is what I truly need.”
Since retiring from sports, Raduan has been working as an attendant at a petrol station in Kuala Selangor – a realisation that recently caused a stir among many who asked how a former national athlete could now be found in such a position.
He also works part-time as an assistant trainer with the National Sports Council (MSN), training athletes with disabilities as young as 14 years of age.
In order to get to work, he must travel from his home in Bukit Belimbing, Kuala Selangor to Kampung Pandan or Shah Alam. He has a motorcycle but without a licence, he makes the trip by bus.
“It’s hard to move around without a driving licence,” he said. “My workplace is far away from my house.
“During desperate times, I am afraid that I might get caught by the police but I need to put food on the table.”
Raduan competed in the Asean Para Games from 2005 to 2017, winning five gold medals for the country.
He also competed in the 2010 Guangzhou Para Asian Games and the 2014 Incheon edition as well as the 2008 Paralympics Games in Beijing.
In 2016, he was admitted into the Podium Programme, a training scheme for national athletes. MPN director-general Ahmad Shapawi said earlier this month that Raduan had received a monthly allowance of RM4,500 until he was dropped from the programme at the end of 2017 due to “performance factors”.
When asked about life after that, Raduan said it was difficult for him to land a job.
“Although MSN offered me a job, I had to refuse it because I had family problems and my late father was sick at the time,” he said.
“I had to find another job to suit my living conditions and it was not easy.”
While former national athletes are eligible for a government pension, Raduan does not qualify, despite his string of podium achievements.
“Only Paralympic athletes who win a medal receive a permanent pension,” he said.
“I managed to bring home medals at big competitions such as the SEA Games, Asian Games and the Open Games from 2005 to 2017. I also competed at the Paralympics but I did not get a medal, so I am not qualified to receive a pension.”
Now 39, Raduan nonetheless appears content with life. When asked what he wished for, he simply laughed.
“I just want to move on and survive in life,” he said.